How Music Plays a Role in the Mind

Songs aren’t just for dancing, there are also science-based reasons as to why people listen to certain songs.


Music can take on  variety of roles for each different person. People listen to music while doing homework, reading and more. A report by Nielsen Music, a music information tracking system, shows that Americans are now spending around 36 hours per week listening to music. The number of different songs being played is still unknown; it is thought that there are 97 million songs in the world, but that statistic only includes the songs that are released. 

Through the internet, almost every possible genre of music can be found. People in this day and age can choose what they want to listen to just by the press of a button. Our emotions can be directly affected by the beat of the song. People will listen to the correlating music when they feel happy, sad and every emotion in between. 

According to University of Jyväskylä researcher, Dr. Henna-Riikka Peltola, sad music is also associated with a set of emotions that give comfort to the listener. These experiences are often mentioned to confer relief and companionship in difficult situations of life.

A chemical called oxytocin, also known as the cuddle hormone, is released when one either sings or listens to music. This causes high emotion and a raise in mood; with that, dopamine levels also increase. This feel-good chemical is released when feeling high levels of happiness or pleasure; for example, when one is eating a favorite food.

Dopamine also correlates to the peak points in the song that can cause people to have chills when listening to music. This large release of dopamine is from the cerebellum, the mission control area, because it has become extremely active. The genre someone chooses to enjoy doesn’t matter, since everyone likes something different. This may be caused by cultural preferences or childhood memories. Some people like certain beats because of how they are closely related to their mother’s heartbeat during their pregnancy, according to Dolora Zajick of the New York Times. 

“I like listening to music that has a story to it,” sophomore Ariah Davis said. “Even if it’s like a small story or meaningless, I like listening to something that is gonna go somewhere. It’s entertaining to me and in a way it’s just my own little story.”

When music and science intertwine, it can sometimes be confusing. When simplified, it becomes elementary. In a way, the tune of a song is an equation a pair of headphones has concocted. At that point is it up to the listener to solve it.